Mesa Verde, Spanish for "green table", offers an
unparalleled opportunity to see and experience a unique cultural and
physical landscape. The culture represented at Mesa Verde reflects more
than 700 years of history. From approximately A.D. 600 through A.D. 1300
people lived and flourished in communities throughout the area, eventually
building elaborate stone villages in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon
walls. Today most people call these sheltered villages "cliff dwellings".
The cliff dwellings represent the last 75 to 100 years of occupation at
Mesa Verde. In the late 1200s within the span of one or two generations,
they left their homes and moved away.
The archeological sites found in Mesa Verde are some of the most
notable and best preserved in the United States. Mesa Verde National Park
offers visitors a spectacular look into the lives of the Ancestral Pueblo
people. Scientists study the ancient dwellings of Mesa Verde, in part, by
making comparisons between the Ancestral Pueblo people and their
contemporary indigenous descendants who still live in the Southwest today.
Twenty-four Native American tribes in the southwest have an ancestral
affiliation with the sites at Mesa Verde.
To fully enjoy Mesa Verde National Park, plan to spend a day or two
exploring its world-class archeological sites as well as its beautiful
landscape. The entrance to the park is 9 miles east of Cortez and 35 miles
west of Durango in Southwestern Colorado on US Highway 160.